Summer is just about over, but don’t put away your boas, dancing shoes and rainbow flags just yet because the seemingly sleepy rural community of Salt Spring Island is about to host British Columbia’s third largest Pride festival.
From September 8 – 11, the Salt Spring Island community will welcome rainbows, drag queens and LGBT guests to join in the 7th Annual Pride celebrations and pride parade.
“Everyone comes out for the parade and dances,” said Amy Phillips Salt Spring Pride Chair. “Everyone involved feels a sense of ownership of the parade. We are inviting visitors into [our] close knit community that is our way of life here.”
Salt Spring Island Pride is a true grassroots Pride event. Although the LGBT community already has many equal rights and same-sex marriage across all of Canada, the event organizers continue to push the political agenda of LGBT rights with this year’s theme, Out in the World!
“We wanted to put a spotlight on the international community where it can be life threatening to be out, as well as see where we have miles to go, closer to home, in the trans community,” said Amy Phillips.
Outside of the political agenda, the Salt Spring Island LGBT community is excited about sharing their way of life with visitors coming to the island for the Pride celebrations.
“Many of us are used to hanging out in our gardens, the woods and potlucks,” Amy explains. “We get pretty excited about expressing a different part of ourselves that Pride also brings out – the larger than life, flamboyant, outrageous and sexy parts.”
It’s not only the LGBT community that is excited about the festivities, Island businesses will be cashing in this weekend too with the influx of visitors.
“Businesses are catching on about the boon that Pride has become to the island, although many of them have supported us all along,” Amy said. “We have given businesses that have donated a [rainbow] flag so they can celebrate and let people know they are supporting the festival.”
Over 700 people are expected to attend the 2011 Salt Spring Island Pride Parade on Saturday, September 10, which starts at noon in Ganges village.
There is a full weekend of events including the screening of Beyond Gay: the Politics of Pride Thursday evening, a cabaret and dance party Friday night, a traditional Pride dance Saturday night, a Unitarian church service Sunday morning and the annual Pride picnic Sunday afternoon.
Funding for the Pride festivities come from donations, local businesses and corporate sponsors including CIBC and Thrifty Foods.
Located in the Straight of Georgia, between Vancouver and Victoria, Salt Spring Island is the largest, most populated, and most frequently visited of the Gulf Islands.
The fastest and easiest way to get to the Island is by float plane from Vancouver or Victoria, and there is daily ferry service from Victoria and other Gulf Islands.
Depending on your style, accommodations on Salt Spring Island range from hotels and bed and breakfasts’, to camping under the stars.
In addition to the Pride celebrations, visitors can enjoy incredible hiking at Ruckle Park, amazing dining featuring fresh, local ingredients, kayaking and swimming in the ocean and lakes, and shopping at the many studios of island artists.
For specific times and more information about Pride and GLOSSI, (Gays and Lesbians of Salt Spring Island), visit their website.